What were the signs?

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I have been asked many times, “What were the signs that your son had autism?”  Sometimes a curious, well-meaning friend will ask.  Sometimes I will get this question from a worried mom of a young child who is perhaps speech delayed.  Every child has different signs, but I found the 24 warning signs in this article very helpful.  The checklist is designed for younger children between 6 and 24 months of age and considering 1 in 68 kids are diagnosed, parents have a reason to worry.  The checklist isn’t foolproof, and is designed to be scored by a medical professional. Its developer, Florida State University’s Dr. Amy M. Wetherby, says “parents can get a good idea of whether there might be a problem simply by eyeballing the questions on the checklist.”

Autism-spectrum disorders: 24 warning signs

1. Do you know when your child is happy and when your child is upset?

2. When your child plays with toys, does he/she look at you to see if you are watching?

3. Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?

4. When you look at and point to a toy across the room, does your child look at it?

5. Does your child let you know that he/she needs help or wants an object out of reach?

6. When you are not paying attention to your child, does he/she try to get your attention?

7. Does your child do things just to get you to laugh?

8. Does your child try to get you to notice interesting objects just to get you to look at the objects, not to get you to do anything with them?

9. Does your child pick up objects and give them to you?

10. Does your child show objects to you without giving you the object?

11. Does your child wave to greet people?

12. Does your child point to objects?

13. Does your child nod his/her head to indicate yes?

14. Does your child use sounds or words to get attention or help?

15. Does your child string sounds together, such as uh oh, mama, gaga, bye bye, bada?

16. About how many of the following consonant sounds does your child use: ma, na, ba, da, ga, wa, la, ya, sa, sha?

17. About how many different words does your child use meaningfully that you recognize (such as baba for bottle; gaggie for doggie)?

18. Does your child put two words together (for example, more cookie, bye bye Daddy)?

19. When you call your child’s name, does he/she respond by looking or turning toward you?

20. About how many different words or phrases does your child understand without gestures?

21. Does your child show interest in playing with a variety of objects?

22. About how many of the following objects does your child use appropriately: cup, bottle, bowl, spoon, comb or brush, toothbrush, washcloth, ball, toy vehicle, toy telephone?

23. About how many blocks (or rings) does your child stack?

24. Does your child pretend to play with toys (for example, feed a stuffed animal, put a doll to sleep, put an animal figure in a vehicle)?

Are you a parent of a child on the spectrum?  How does this checklist look to you?  Did you see any of these signs with your child?

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